Minister for Defence Marise Payne attended a meeting of Defence Ministers today at NATO Headquarters [spelt correctly by CONTACT] in Brussels to discuss progress in the coalition’s military campaign to counter Daesh.
CAPTION: Defence Minister Marise Payne talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. NATO photo.
Ministers reviewed the progress of the military campaign, which they agreed remains on track, and discussed next steps.
After three months of operations to liberate Mosul, they concluded that East Mosul is liberated and operations will commence shortly to liberate West Mosul, Daesh’s last major stronghold in Iraq.
Minister Payne said that as Daesh continued to lose ground in Iraq and Syria, the NATO ministers discussed the importance of the coalition’s efforts in tackling the threat of Daesh-directed or -inspired violent extremism around the world.
Minister Payne emphasised the importance Australia places on countering extremism in Southeast Asia, particularly as Daesh’s losses in Iraq and Syria may lead to some foreign fighters returning to our region.
While in Brussels, Minister Payne also had a bilateral meeting with United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis to discuss mutual strategic interests, including in Iraq, Afghanistan and the South China Sea.
Minister Payne said the Australia-US Alliance was, and would continue to be, the Australian government’s highest strategic policy.
Minister Payne also met with the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss shared interests, including in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Australia is a leading contributor to the US-led coalition to counter Daesh.
The ADF, operating as part of the broader US-led coalition, is providing support to the Iraqi Security Forces during the Mosul offensive, through the Air Task Group’s air operations, and the Building Partner Capacity and Advise and Assist missions.
Australia is not a member of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), but is represented at NATO Headquarters by our Ambassador in Brussels, a defence attaché in Brussels and a military representative to NATO itself.